Donati steals the show at Italian Open

Matteo Donati serves during Sunday's victory over Santiago Giraldo. Photo: Italian Insider

ROME – Matteo Donati, the world number 275, thrilled the centre court crowd at the Italian Open on Sunday, overcoming Colombian, Santiago Giraldo in three sets. The 20-year old Italian fought back from a set down to win 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 and book a meeting with sixth seed Tomas Berdych in round two.

 Following a nervy start from Donati in centre court’s opening match, Giraldo was able to gain the upper hand and breezed to victory in the first set. However, it immediately became apparent at the start of the second that Donati had settled into the match and the Italian quickly began to display some of his finest shot making. The 20-year old broke early at the beginning of the set and went on to take it by a comfortable margin, after securing a double break of serve.

 The act of crossing the finishing line in such an important contest always presents its own problems, but in his first ever match during the main draw of an ATP Masters 1000 event, Donati maintained his composure. The Italian visibly drew great inspiration from the centre court crowd, whose chants of “Matteo, Matteo” rang round the arena during the final set, which he closed out in impressive fashion.

 Elsewhere in Sunday’s first round fixtures there were wins for the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro and the big-serving South African, Kevin Anderson, who survived a third set tiebreak to sneak into round two. Almagro was never really troubled by Italian wildcard Luca Vanni, winning 6-4, 6-3, and it was to be a similar story in centre court’s second match, with Leonardo Mayer dispatching Federico Gaio in straight sets (6-3, 6-4).

 Certainly though, the opening day of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia belonged to young Matteo Donati and the Italian faithful who strongly supported him. However, the day’s main tennis headline was to come from Spain in the form of the news that Andy Murray had trounced Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2 in front of his home fans to win the final of the Madrid Open. Both men will form part of the second round draw in Rome, along with the likes of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, with the top eight seeds receiving first round byes.